"If you can [expect a player to stabilize the offense], it's him," Hunter Pence said. "He adds a lot of energy, so we're ready to get him back."
Another day presented another talented young Marlins starter, and this time Nathan Eovaldi stymied the Giants as they failed to score more than three runs for the fifth time in seven games.
"I don't know if they were pressing," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We saw a great arm today. ... Still, you've got to find a way to score runs."
They had ample opportunities to score the game-tying run down 3-2 in the late innings, but twice failed to score a runner from third base. In the eighth inning, Gregor Blanco reached third on a Marco Scutaro single to right field. Third baseman Ed Lucas threw out Scutaro when he tried to reach second base. The threat ended a play later when Buster Posey grounded out.
"It's totally [Scutaro's] read," Bochy said. "The third baseman made a heads-up play and made a perfect throw to second base."
Jean Machi allowed four runs in the ninth, including two homers, to put the game out of reach in his second straight poor outing. On Friday, he failed to record an out against three batters. It got worse Sunday. He surrendered a home run to Marcell Ozuna, an RBI double to Greg Dobbs and Justin Ruggiano's second blast of the game. In his last two outings, Machi allowed five runs on seven hits and two home runs in just two-thirds of an inning.
"I think the bullpen got worn down a bit [this series]," Bochy said. "I think Machi showed signs of it in the ninth. These were hard-fought, close games. This one got away from us."
Despite Machi's struggles, he was not the first Giant to struggle with Ozuna this series. The rookie was a thorn in San Francisco's side all series, as he recorded the go-ahead hits in Miami victories Thursday and Friday and doubled Logan Morrison home in the fourth inning Sunday off Giants starter Matt Cain.
"We made some awful pitches to him [this series] and he took advantage," Bochy said. "He's a young gifted athlete who came in struggling and killed us."
The Giants trailed from Cain's second pitch of the game, when Ruggiano clubbed the first of his two home runs. Morrison earned an RBI in the sixth when Brandon Belt committed a rare error that allowed Lucas to score. The miscue was not only uncharacteristic of Belt, but of the entire Giants defense lately. San Francisco entered the game with only nine errors in June to lead the National League after committing a Major League-high 25 in May.
The three runs were enough for Miami on an afternoon when Eovaldi was quite impressive, twirling the third quality start in four games for Miami. He allowed just two runs in six innings while striking out seven.
In all, Cain allowed three runs in six innings while striking out eight. The Giants had won eight of the last 10 Cain starts prior to Sunday's game, but couldn't generate enough offense to make up for the 3-0 deficit. The loss was his first at home since his nemesis, the Cardinals, knocked him around for nine runs in a brief start April 7. He entered Sunday with a 3-0 record and 2.68 ERA at home since that outing.
"I think I threw the ball well," Cain said. "I made some mistakes."
Cain said there's no need to push the panic button at this time, with the Giants 38-37 and headed on a 10-game road trip.
"I think it will be [fine] because we have the same core group of guys," he said. "It's not a group that gets in a panic."
The Giants did not mount much of a threat against an efficient Eovaldi until the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Tony Abreu lined a pitch to left field that Ruggiano dove for and missed. The ball rolled to the warning track, and Abreu settled into third with a triple. He scored two plays later when Scutaro grounded out to second base.
The Giants chased Eovaldi out of the game an inning later after Hunter Pence homered and Belt walked. Pence's long ball was the Giants' first since June 14, a drought that spanned eight homerless games.
San Francisco had not dropped a homestand since last August. Miami won three of four in this series and has won 10 of its last 11 games at AT&T Park.